Ajax lost the first European match with coach John van ‘t Schip at the helm in the Europa League to Brighton & Hove Albion. The current number seven of the Premier League was too strong with 0-2 in Amsterdam.
The defeat leaves Ajax at the bottom of the Europa League group after four games with two points from four matches. Ajax must win at least one of the upcoming matches against Olympique Marseille and AEK Athens to hibernate in Europe, in the Europa League or Conference League.
Marseille defeated AEK 2-0 later in the evening, meaning that Ajax can only continue in the Europa League with two wins in the final matches.
Brighton’s starting line-up had a considerable Dutch touch: former Ajax player Joël Veltman, Jan Paul van Hecke and brand new international Bart Verbruggen were at the kick-off.
Ajax’s strong start not rewarded
The start of the match looked nothing like the match two weeks ago, when Brighton won 2-0 in southern England. Hedwiges Maduro was then just in charge after Maurice Steijn had been fired a few days earlier. Maduro – now back in his old role as assistant – then played extra defensively to prevent a breakdown. In the first fifteen minutes in the Johan Cruijff Arena, Ajax had the better of the game with shots from Steven Berghuis and Kristian Hlynsson.
One wrong pass from Silvano Vos killed Ajax within fifteen minutes. The ball was intercepted and played deep to Ansu Fati, who remained cool in front of the goal: 0-1. Fati, hired from FC Barcelona and Spanish international, also scored in the previous match.
Watch the reactions of John van ‘t Schip, Devyne Rensch and Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke:
Ajax tried after that, but mainly due to sloppiness there were no real opportunities. In injury time of the first half, Ajax keeper Diant Ramaj had to intervene to prevent a bigger deficit. He saved with his foot in the short corner from a bet by Simon Adingra.
At half-time, Van ‘t Schip intervened by bringing on Chuba Akpom for Kenneth Taylor. Akpom had an unfortunate start at Ajax, but in the last two games he scored three goals in 28 minutes. His intervention did not help much.
Brobbey misses a chance under the watchful eye of Koeman
Eight minutes after halftime, Adingra received the ball in Ajax’s penalty area from Fati, which was not tackled by anyone. Adingra had all the time in the world to find an angle and shot the ball hard and high past Ramaj: 0-2.
Ajax created little or nothing for a long time until the much-discussed Brian Brobbey – national coach Ronald Koeman criticized his finishing, among other things – got a huge chance after a good action by substitute Carlos Forbs. Brobbey – under the watchful eye of Koeman – first hit one post, after which the ball bounced straight over the line against the other post. No goal and therefore no much-needed tying goal for Ajax.
That was the starting signal for a final offensive by Ajax, where excellent play was displayed at times. Forbs got a chance after a wonderful through ball from Georgian Georges Mikautadze, who had also just come on. Forbs was just too late to the ball to test Verbruggen.
Akpom succeeded eight minutes before the end. He shot on target from close range after a good combination with Brobbey, but Verbruggen was in the right place. He ultimately kept a clean sheet in the Johan Cruijff Arena, something he was unable to do with the Dutch national team.
The post first appeared on nos.nl